American Record Guide
, October 2000
"Flemish Renaissance music seems quite fashionable at the moment. But, unlike most fads, it's actually worth all the attention it's getting. In our last issue I reviewed Piffaro's wonderful new Flemish release and mentioned At the sign of the Crumhorn by way of comparison. Now I am happy to talk about this charming release in more detail.
"The Convivium Musicum is a mixed voice and period instrument ensemble at the Gothenburg College of Music. Instruments include all the wacky Renaissance music-makers that make you grin when you hear them: shawm, dulcian, pommer, trombone, and - of course - the crumhorn. All the music here is taken from the first three of the justly famous music books of Tielman Susato, whose efforts did much to popularize Flemish music in Europe. The first two books consist of 55 settings of Dutch texts; the title page reads, "Amorous songs in our Netherlandish tongue, composed by divers composers, very pleasing to sing and play on all musical instruments, printed in Antwerp by Tielman Susato, residing at the sign of the Crummhorn." The third book is Susato's even more famous collection of dances, so enjoyable even to modern listeners.
"Though Susato composed for these books himself, he also included the work of many other composers. Represented here are Josquin Baston, Lupus Hellinc, Carolus Souliaert, Benedictus Appenzeller, and Jacob Clemens non papa. All the music is secular and mostly about such questionable topics as drinking too much and making love, so it's quite lively. The singing is both energetic and highly expressive, as is the playing. This is a great addition to the Naxos catalog and to Renaissance music in general.
"Oh Flanders Free has even more of a vocal emphasis than Crummhorn; well over half the number are for voice. Capilla Flamenca has all-male singers with instruments. This program represents all kinds of Renaissance music: Gregorian chant, parts of the Mass, motets, madrigals, chansons, and dance music. Most of the names are familiar, including Johannes Ockeghem, Josquin des Prez, Henry VIII, Tielman Susato (one piece only), and Pierre de La Rue. The tone is set at the beginning with an excerpt from the Requiem Mass, so the entire program is generally rather grave and introspective. It balances out the more extroverted and boisterous dance music onCrummhorn. And I enjoyed Capilla Flamenca as much as I did Gothenburg's Convivium Musicum.
"Both discs have excellent sound and very attractive booklets, with plenty of information, texts, and translations.